US retailer Kmart has launched a money-off programme for the jobless in its original home state of Michigan.

The retailer’s Smart Assist Savings Scheme entitles the unemployed to discounts of 20 per cent on own-label staples such as baby products, basic groceries and toilet roll.

Kmart is issuing discount cards, valid for six months, to customers who are registered as unemployed. It expects to carry on issuing the cards until January, The Financial Times reported.

Michigan, where Kmart was founded in 1962 and where its head office was based until 2005, has an unemployment rate of 14.1 per cent – the highest in the US, where the national average is 9.4 per cent.

Other retailers have implemented similar schemes. Spartan Stores, a 99-store grocery chain based in Michigan, issued discount cards to former General Motors employees and Green Hills, a New York family-owned grocer, runs a Recession Assistance scheme, giving the registered unemployed a 10 per cent discount.